23Feb/09

Marketing Mondays – One Bite at a Time

Here’s another one from the American Express OPEN Forum.

Deborah Chaddock Brown opened her freelance writing business AllWrite Ink in 2004 after almost 17 years with the International retail optical corporation, Pearle Vision. Deborah’s background is in franchising, operations, marketing and communication, however, her passion is helping businesses connect with their target audience using the Internet. Deborah blogs at Websites People Read.

Face Your Economic Crisis One Bite at a TimeI run a home based business and yesterday afternoon I went up to my bedroom to put something away and discovered that I’d left my bed unmade when I’d risen at 5:30am. I reached over the mattress to pull up the covers and found myself crawling, fully clothed between the flannel sheets. I pulled my blankets up over my nose which left my eyes peaking out and my brain running at full speed.

‘How will I find the funds to send my oldest to college in September and what about the braces my youngest needs? My dad, who lives 2000 miles away has just been admitted to the hospital for unknown reasons and the distance between us has never felt more immense. The economy is taking a toll on my business and the idea of just staying under the covers seems like the only solution.’

However, as I laid there I realized that at some point I’d need to get up. The challenges I faced before I pulled up the covers would still be there crying out for attention. I needed to take action, but how? One baby step at a time.

You’ve heard the old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

The same philosophy works for facing a challenge; like surviving the next 12 months. Economists theorize that Q1 09 will be tough and Q2 may be as tough but by the second half of the year we should start to see a slow movement towards improvement. Just like the extra weight we carry didn’t happen over night, neither did the economic crisis. And we can’t expect to wake up and suddenly be a size 6 without some effort.

So here’s how I see it: we just need to make it eleven more months. Are you with me? We just need to hang in there. So how are we going to do that?

Take action one baby step at a time.

  • Categorize the income producing projects you have on your plate into those that are most likely to bring you steady income the quickest.
  • Write down a laundry list of everything you need to do to make them happen.
  • Prioritize the laundry list.
  • Make a list of those people you know who might be considered centers of influence (check out Bill Cates’ definition).
  • Add to your calendar a schedule of contacting those people and letting them know you are available for work.
  • Contact prior customers to see if they need additional services or if they can make a recommendation.
  • Review your products and services and break them down into two categories: big money makers that take a while to close and small income producers that are quicker to sell.
  • Consider adopting a strategy of selling 100 services/products at a smaller dollar amount than your prior focus of selling 10 really big projects.
  • Now get started! Start each day:

    • Review your laundry list of items that need to be done to drive traffic: do ONE thing.
    • Review your list of centers of influence: call ONE person.
    • Review your list of past customers for additional revenue or a referral: call ONE customer.
    • Review your listing of small, quick selling products and services: call ONE person who might be interested.

    If after doing those four things you still feel like you need to pull the covers over your head. . . TAKE A WALK.

    Real Age has an article about crushing your chocolate cravings by taking a walk. The same thought can be applied to feeling low or stuck in a rut. Get out and breathe in the fresh air. It’s not only good for your heart, but also for your spirit.

    Pulling the covers over your head may seem like a solution but it is really just a delaying tactic. We need to stand up and take action.

    “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” Anne Lamott

    Check out Todd Carpenter’s story of using the “one bite at a time” theory for his personal success.

    What an encouraging, helpful reminder (it seems like we need to hear this type of thing pretty often right now)!  What steps are you taking daily to stay out from under the covers?

    23Feb/09

    Leadership Lakeland

    Did you know that Leadership Lakeland is accepting nominations for the next class?  The Leadership Lakeland program has been in existence for 26 years through the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce.

    Why would anyone invest their time and energy in such a program?   Why would any company pay for their employees to participate in such a program?  The people who can give you the best answers to those questions are the graduates themselves. 

    One graduate I spoke to at this year’s Tiger BBQ, Fred Lopez (Allen & Company), said that it was the best thing he has ever done.   He added that the deep meaningful relationships that he shares with his classmates is something he doesn’t think he could have Leadership Lakeland Logoachieved anywhere else….particularly the diverse friends that he met through his class.  

    So, what does building meaningful relationships with a diverse group of people have to do with leadership, you might ask.     I answer:  Everything.   

    At the foundation of leadership is trust.  The less trust that exists, the less leadership is effective.  When leadership is not effective, productivity suffers.   That’s what happens in the workplace, in the community, and in every other group you could list – including family.

    Another graduate, Jim Rhodes (Publix), told me that until he went through the program, he THOUGHT he was knowledgeable about the community  because he had grown up in Lakeland.   It was after he graduated that he realized that he was wrong.  It was after the program that he became fully connected to the community and became involved at a level that is exhausting to even list.   He says that the Leadership Lakeland experience changed his life.  He is a volunteer – extraordinaire!

    Shawn McDonough (Exity Realty Lakeland), a current class member, told me last week that any day that is not a Leadership Lakeland day is boring by contrast,  and he is already dreading the end of the year and graduation.  

    Last week I met with a representative from a company who has locations in 3 areas of Florida – one of them is in Lakeland at Lakeside Village.   We talked about ‘sense of community’.   It is palpable in Lakeland and it is not in the other cities she has store fronts.

    Many of us experience that ‘sense of community’ and I believe that the Leadership Lakeland program has contributed to that community spirit.   That’s what Leadership Lakeland is all about – bringing 30 people together – people of diverse backgrounds – people who have already demonstrated a commitment to Lakeland – to spend a year together.  During the year they learn more about themselves, their classmates an the community.   

    At the end of the year, they are more connected and engaged in sustaining Lakeland as a Community of Choice.   They take the experiences and the knowledge they acquired through the year and apply it throughout their entire sphere of influence.   And just to extend the experience, the Leadership Lakeland Alumni Association is available to broaden the circle even wider.

    This is important:  

    Step 1:   The nomination form, additional information can be found here. The deadline for receiving nominations is April 9.  You can nominate anyone – even yourself.   Nomination forms will also be available in the March issue of the Chamber’s newsletter.

    Step 2:  All who are nominated are sent application instructions.   The selection process is completed by the end of June.   The dates for the next class are posted on the nomination form and the website and our attendance requirements are very firm.

    The selection of 30 class members is strategic.  We want to be able to maximize the experience and develop an esprit de corps among the class members.

    19Feb/09

    Junior League of Greater Lakeland’s 4th Annual World of Reading Festival

     

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    The Junior League of Greater Lakeland (JLGL) will hold its Fourth Annual World of Reading Festival at Barnett Park by the Lake Mirror Promenade in downtown Lakeland on Saturday, Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free to the general public and provides an opportunity for children to learn through participation.

    Upon arrival, each child will receive a passport. The attendees will then visit five countries and take part in an arts and crafts activity related to that particular region of the world. As the children exit each country, their passports will be stamped. After receiving all five stamps, the children will select a free Scholastic book to take home.

    Last year, more than 650 children attended, and the JLGL anticipates a crowd of 800 children this year. In addition, the JLGL is excited to announce a guest performance by popular children’s singer/songwriter Jack Hartmann who will take the stage at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

    “We are thrilled to have children’s musical sensation Jack Hartmann join us this year,” JLGL President Stacey McLaughlin said. “His music is educational and research-based, and equally important, kids love him!”

    Other participants include the Lakeland Police Department, Lakeland Fire Department, Boys & Girls Club, Learning Resource Center, Huntington Learning Center, Success by Six and Parkland Puppets. Throughout the day, attendees will experience guest readers and performances, as well as inflatable activities for entertainment.

    Families and children of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Kimberly Cassidy at 863-370-0054 or visit the JLGL Web site at http://www.jlgl.com.

    16Feb/09

    Marketing Mondays – Small Changes Today…

    Heed these wise words from Ken Partain, posted in the OPEN Forum’s blog:

    When times get tough and sales slow down, people start scrambling around trying to force things to happen.  I’d like to suggest another way to handle tough situations that can indeed help in the short-term, but create lasting rewards in the long-term.

    First of all, take a deep breath and relax.  No matter what you do, you can’t really force a prospect to buy your product or service.  Yeah, you could slash your prices in hopes of making a quick sale, but you’ve just destroyed your profit at the same time.  You can’t do that very often or you won’t be in business for long.

    There are four areas where you can make incremental changes that can help improve your business today and set you up for lasting success.

    Leads

    Leads are at the very top of the Marketing Hourglass, or what many people refer to as the Marketing Funnel.  Bottom line, the more leads you get, the more sales you’ll make.  So, what can you do TODAY to generate more leads?

    Remember, you don’t have to knock it out of the park here.  Just get on first base.  If you improve your leads generated by just 10% and everything else remains the same, you should see a 10% increase in sales.
    But let’s take this a step further.

    Conversions

    Now that you have increased the number of leads you are getting, how can you convert more of those leads into paying clients?  I have a one word answer, testing.  Test your headlines, test copy, test your offer, test your call to action, test everything.  Find the combination that works the best for your target market and continue to improve over time.

    Pricing

    It seems that everyone is hyper-sensitive about price these days.  The way to get around that is to offer a package of products and/or services that can’t be found anywhere else.  This one thing can differentiate you from all your competitors and make it virtually impossible for people to beat you up and compare your pricing to others.

    Now that you have a unique product/service offering you can effectively increase your average sales price.

    Transactions

    Now that you are generating more leads, converting more of those leads into sales and selling at an effectively higher price, what can you do to sell more to your existing clients?

    Offer a premium package and/or create a training or coaching program that turns those one-time sales into recurring sales.  The key here is to offer a tremendous amount of value for the price so that your clients will continue working with you for months and years to come.

    By making small improvements in each of these areas, you will see a drastic improvement in bottom line profits.  If you’ll take the time today to make these changes, you’ll be poised for remarkable sales and long-lasting success when the economy turns back around.